The plumbing in any residential or commercial building is a vast and complicated series of pipes, with incoming and outgoing flows of liquid. The network of pipes, vents, and traps controls not only the water coming in but also the contents that need to get out as well. The branching of pipes that carry off the solid and liquid waste from your home is just as important as the incoming pipe system. The outgoing pipes are connected to the system of pipes that carry waste into the municipal wastewater of the public. The system allows your home to extricate solid and liquid waste from your home without the possibility of sewer gases and bacteria re-entering.
If this system is not working properly there will be a sewer smell in your home or business. A common reason why this may be happening to you is not having vents and traps attached to each plumbing fixture. If traps and vents are missing you will need the help of a plumber to install them immediately or the smell will persist. Another common reason is broken seals around the toilet that allows water to siphon or dry out the traps thereby allowing smells to enter the home. There could be an air leak at the wax ring of the toilet or in the vent pipe. Rotted or damp wood can also cause the smell. Check to see if the toilet is tightly sealed to the floor.
Frequently the cause of a sewer smell in the home can be a dry trap. If you pour a quart of water down every drain in your home this should eliminate the odor. All drain sewer systems have a ‘P’-shaped trap that is filled with water. If one of your plumbing fixtures is hardly used the water in this trap may evaporate and dry out over time. Without the water, the seal is no longer useful allowing sewer smells into your home. However, if this is the case the fix is incredibly easy – just make sure you are pouring a quart of water down the drain semi-regularly.
If you have an old home or your business is inside of an old building, your plumbing may be made of cast-iron pipes. This means that the smell may be coming from cracks in these old pipes. Cast-iron piping usually cracks on the top side of the pipe. Unfortunately, there is no way to know where the crack starts or ends meaning you may need to inspect every inch of your plumbing to find it. If the entire length of the piping is crack, which is quite common in old pipes, you should replace it with PVC plumbing material.
Vents can also cause a sewer smell to be present in your home. If the vent is clogged you may need to call a plumber or a professional to examine all the vents inside your home, all the way to your roof. Once the vents are unclogged the sewer smell should dissipate. There could also be a leak in one of the vent lines in your home. If this is the case, you’ll need the help of a plumber to check for loose fittings, corrosion, or holes in the vent piping. If the top side of the vent piping is rusted, though it might not leak liquid, sewer gas smells will excrete into the home. Using copper, steel or cast-iron piping usually causes this problem.
If the smell is only noticeable when around a certain drain, sink, or shower try using an industrial cleaner. Pour the strong cleaner or bleach down the holes inside the bowl near the rim. When the sink is nearly overflowing water is filtered to a different drain, debris can collect inside of these chambers and create a foul smell.
There are multiple reasons why your home may be smelling like the sewer, thankfully there are many ways this problem can be fixed as well – usually cost-effective and time-efficient. Don’t suffer from a house or business that smells like the sewer, find the problem and fix it quickly and easily.